Film review: DIRTY GRANDPA, from ‘Built For Speed’

Dirty Grandpa should not be confused with the similar sounding Jackass movie Bad Grandpa. This would do a disservice to the atrocious Bad Grandpa as astonishingly, Dirty Grandpa is even worse. This embarrassingly awful road trip comedy is little more than a procession of staggeringly unfunny and moronic gags barely held together by an inane and clichéd plot.

Somehow Robert de Niro signed up for this abomination and even compared his demeaning roles in those awful Fockers sequels, this represents the nadir of his acting career. De Niro plays the recently widowed Richard ‘Dick’ Kelly an irresponsible and as it turns out, oversexed septuagenarian who lures his uptight, soon-to-be married, yuppie lawyer grandson Jason (Zac Efron) into giving him a lift to visit an old army buddy (Danny Glover) in Florida. The incorrigible grandpa has a secret agenda, however, as he eyes off partying teen girls on Spring Break in Florida as potential sexual conquests.

Disturbing as the concept of a man lusting after girls young enough to be his granddaughter sounds, this film actually manages to be even more repulsive than we might have imagined with mind-numbing genitalia jokes and nearly every character from the ditzy jail-bait bikini girls to young black gang members to Efron’s whiny materialistic fiancé (Julianne Hough) simply cringe-worthy stereotypes. Even the charming presence of Zoey Detuch as Shadia the girl who (surprise, surprise) Jason should really be with, can’t remove the vile taste this film leaves.

Witnessing de Niro masturbating, smoking crack and spewing non-sensical homophobic insults is one of the most mortifying sights ever witnessed on a cinema screen. Having him play a politically incorrect and depraved character might have been tolerable if that character or anything in this film was funny but it’s not. Billy Bob Thornton was a complete degenerate in Bad Santa but he was actually funny.

As the nerdy, anxious straight man, Efron essentially plays the opposite role to the one he played in Bad Neighbours while de Niro becomes the destructive party animal. It’s hardly his fault given the abysmal script but Efron fumbles about in humiliating fashion trying to find some shred of humour in his character. Despite playing a repressed suit, Efron still manages to fling off his shirt at regular intervals and even engages in a Spring Break muscle flexing competition with de Niro.  Efron must be kicking his agent’s door in right now after being required to do a delightful scene in which his near naked character is mistaken for a paedophile.

The film isn’t just unfunny and crass it’s also annoyingly lazy with ridiculous inconsistencies such as de Niro’s character abusing a gay man one minute then beating up a group of young black guys who hassle the same gay man.

Just to make this toxic garbage even less tolerable it switches with thudding predictability from insulting and infantile attempts at humour to treacly and utterly unconvincing sentimentality.

If someone told us that de Niro and Efron had been drugged and in a brain-addled state forced to appear in this horrendous film we could believe it more easily than we could the notion that they chose to appear in this disaster.

Nick’s rating: No stars.

Genre: Comedy.

Classification: MA15+.

Director(s): Dan Mazer.

Release date: 28th January 2016.

Running time: 102 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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